Oline Cogdill

altOften times mystery writers' lives are as intriguing as those characters they write about.

Take Sarasota, Florida, author Blaize Clement, who died last week of cancer. Blaize was the author of the series about Dixie Hemingway, a pet sitter.

Blaize, who was 78 when she passed away, had battled physical pain all her life. Blaize was afflicted by polio before she was 20 when she was a young mother. She was forced to spend at least a year in the hospital. For the rest of her life, she was not able to walk unassisted.

While she eventually put herself through college to become a clinical psychologist, she also suffered from post-polio syndrome.

Blaize was a lovely lady with a quick wit. I met her a few times when she attended Florida Mystery Writers of America events; she also was a frequent attendee of Sleuthfest.

"I knew Blaize through her writing and I saw her at conferences tooling around in her red scooter. Blaize never talked about her illness. She was interested in perfecting her craft. She wrote until the very end -- that is truly a writer's life," said Elaine Viets, the author of the Dead-End Jobs mysteries.

Blaize published her first Dixie Hemingway novel, Curiosity Killed the Cat Sitter, (St. Martin's) in 2006.

Knowing she had little time left, Blaize worked against deadline, trying to complete the seventh and eighth novels in her series. The new book will be out in January 2012.

But Blaize's legacy will continue. Her son, John, has signed a contract with St. Martin’s Minotaur to write at least two additional books in the series, which is set on Siesta Key, a lovely part of Sarasota.

The eighth book in the series is about half completed, with an extensive outline.

Here is her complete obituary.

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